Everything You Must Know Before you Fill out Your Last Will and Testament Form

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Everything You Must Know Before you Fill out Your Last Will and Testament Form Powered By Docstoc
					A Last Will and Testament is the legal document that controls the
disposition of your property at death and may provide for guardianship
for your children after your death. A will is not effective until death.
As long as you are living, your will has no effect and no property or
rights to property are transferred by it.    Your estate consists of all
your property and personal belongings that you own or are entitled to
possess at the time of your death. This includes real and personal
property, cash, savings and checking accounts, stocks, bonds, real
estate, and automobiles. Although the proceeds of insurance policies may
be considered part of your estate in some states, a will does not change
the designated beneficiaries of an insurance policy. The proceeds of an
insurance policy will normally pass to the primary or secondary
beneficiary designated on the face of the policy. Even if you do not have
very much, you probably still have some things you would like to pass on
to your loved ones. Your estate grows daily in value through repayment of
mortgages, appreciation of real estate, stocks and other securities,
possible inheritances from other relatives and other factors.     Avoid
family disagreements. Many families struggle over who should get what. A
will allows you to give your things to whomever you want, not to whomever
a judge decides will get it.        SOME TERMS YOU SHOULD BE FAMILIAR
WITH      ESTATE:   All that one owns in real estate, personal property
and other assets. EXECUTOR: The person appointed to manage the estate
of a person who has died. Unless there is a valid objection, the judge
will appoint the person named in the will to be the executor. This should
be a competent person that you trust and who has the time to carry out
the terms of your will. It can also be an attorney or a bank. GUARDIAN:
A person who will take care of your minor child if the other parent is
unable. Naming a guardian for your child only expresses your wishes.
The court makes the final decision in the appointment of the guardian.
HOLOGRAPHIC WILL: A handwritten Will that is written, dated and signed by
the testator. (The person making the will.) INCAPACITY: Lacking the
ability to understand one's actions. INTESTATE: When a person dies
without leaving a valid will. PROBATE: The process of proving a will is
valid and then doing what was stated in the will. TESTATOR: A person
who has written a will. BENEFICIARY: A person who receives property
through a will is known as a beneficiary. SECONDARY BENEFICIARY: Those
who inherit property in the event the primary beneficiary dies before
you. CODICIL: A written modification to a person's will, which must be
dated, signed and witnessed just as a will would be, and must make some
reference to the will it amends.

  Any person may make a will who is eighteen (18) years of age or older
and of sound mind. Being of sound mind means that you have the ability
to understand the consequences of your actions. Your will can be
challenged if someone feels you were not of sound mind when you made the
will. In addition to being eighteen years old and of sound mind, in
order for a will to be valid, it must be in writing, the testator (person
making the will) must sign it, and, if typed, two or more witnesses are
needed. Oral wills are not valid. Your legal residence is the state in
which you have your true, fixed and permanent home, and to which, if you
are temporarily absent, you intend to return. Voting, paying taxes,
owning property and motor vehicle registration are some indications that
one is a legal resident of a state. Your legal residence may affect where
your will is probated and the amount of state inheritance or estate tax
that may be paid at death. Generally speaking you are free to give your
property to whomever you desire. However there are some exceptions. Most
states have laws that entitle spouses to at least part of the other
spouse's estate. This statutory share ranges from 1/3 to 1/2 of the
other spouse's estate. Some states also provide shares of the estate to
children of the decedent. Insurance proceeds and jointly owned property
may be controlled by other provisions of the law.    A guardian should be
named in a will to ensure that the minor children and their estates are
cared for in the event that both parents should die. Your guardian
should be chosen with great care as this person will be charged with the
duty of raising your children and managing their legal affairs. Do not
automatically assume that your parents or any other relative will be
suitable guardians. A substitute guardian should also be chosen with the
same care as the primary guardian just in case the primary guardian
cannot serve in that capacity. This decision on your part will be of
great assistance to the court in determining who will be granted custody
of your children.   Joint bank accounts and real property held in the
names of both husband and wife with right of survivorship usually pass to
the survivor by law and not by the terms of the deceased's will. There
may be cases in which it is not to your advantage to hold property in
this manner. When a person dies without a will (intestate) the property
of the deceased is distributed according to a formula fixed by law. In
other words, if you don't have a will you don't have any say as to how
your property will be divided. Usually a person would prefer that all of
his estate go to the surviving spouse. If there are any children under
18 the property cannot be delivered to them and a guardian must be
appointed for them. Probate is the process of proving a will is valid.
You must file the will with the clerk of the court in the county where
the deceased person lived, along with a petition to have the court
approve the will and appoint an executor (or executrix, if female). The
court will then determine if the will is valid. It usually costs less to
administer an estate when a person leaves a will. A properly drafted will
can take advantage of Federal and State tax laws.   You can change your
will with a writing called a codicil . A codicil can add to, subtract
from or modify the terms of the original will. Keep the codicil with the
original will. Choose a safe place where someone else can find the will
after you are gone. Someone you trust should know that the will exists
and where it is located. A will does not have to be recorded or filed
with anyone until after death. A will can be be deposited with the
probate court for safe keeping. has been serving the
online do-it-yourself legal community for over 5 years. I recommend
getting your last will and testament form there. You could think of
your last will form as a last will and testament template where you
simply fill few blank spots, which you can edit and print on your
computer or fill in with pen.

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